Lockdown in townships – Level 5 or 1 it’s the same!!

By Zoh Mdhladhla

Its 4h30 on the morning of Monday 18th May 2020 –  just woke up and watched the latest statistics on Covid-19. South Africa registered a total 15 515 cases and still rising. There were a record of 1150 new cases in a 24-period of Sunday, first since the lockdown started.

A few taxis have started to ferry passengers to work. We are supposedly in level 4 of Lockdown which means it’s still essential workers and a few other workers permitted on this level. One and a half hours later the township is buzzing with activities – at least that is what I hear in my section, G, which is near the Taxi Rank, and two shopping centres. I am still in bed about to do my daily morning prayer. I take my lectionary and open it on page 40. Today I am only reading Psalm 149 and do a short prayer as I am rushing to listen to Pastor Radebe sent via WhatsApp from a friend.

It’s now O6h45 and I get out of bed to have my morning Ginger, Lemon & Mint leaves tea. I am not wearing a gown; we don’t wear those in a township. Mine that was bought by my team is languishing in the wardrobe. I must have worn it only once or twice. Can’t really remember.

I go outside to bask in the sun. My neighbour is already at the wash trough almost done with her washing. Normal morning greetings are exchanged. I go about my routine to check  if the cats or the monkey (regular visitor) did not trash the rubbish bin. I open the gates to check for some dog droppings. The street looks like Mini Town on Durban beach front. Children are already playing. They are exchanging use of a man-made scooter. Others are bouncing a soccer ball. The little ones are crying. One grown woman still in what was used to be a nightdress is coming from the Tuckshop with a plastic full of “Amagwinya” (fat cakes) that will be eaten with tea or coffee for breakfast.

Life is like normal in the township. I am not only talking about my section; I have been to other sections – life is like as it was before lockdown. People walk in groups of 5 or more not observing social distancing and they do not wear masks. I must say since lockdown I have never seen the army except on TV. People still gather around to have a few drinks which are illegally sold by police who have confiscated it from other people.

I am happy to say that I have not seen a person jaywalking on the street with a bottle of beer. I am driving almost everyday to do groceries or to buy painkillers for my mother. One thing you don’t want to experience is to be stopped by a police van. Last Friday I heard the loud siren behind and blue lights out of nowhere. They literally stripped my car trying to find out if I am not transporting liquor. That was a harrowing experience.

Other than that life in the township is normal, it is like we are on a long school holiday.